Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Constituency?
A CONSTITUENCY is any cohesive body of people bound by shared identity, goals, or loyalty. Constituency can be used to describe a business’s customer base and shareholders, or a charity’s donors or those it serves. In politics, a constituency can mean either the people from whom an individual or organization hopes to attract support, or geographical area that a particular elected official represents. (from en.wikipedia.org)
Driving to church last Sunday I took the same path that I always take on a Sunday morning, which leads me past one of our “larger” churches in Nashville. This past Sunday however my drive involved a different sight than usual. I could see in the distance picketers on all four corners holding up signs in front of the church entrance. My initial thought was, “Hmmm, that’s a smart stunt for a pastor to pull to get attention”…until I got close enough to read the signs….
“God Hates Fags”, “Your Pastor’s a Whore”, “Fags are Beasts”…and several other hate filled messages for every passing motorist to read. Across the street were the “rebuttal” signs, from every other perspective…and it all just seemed so chaotic and negative to me… No, that’s an understatement…it was just plain hateful and evil feeling…
When I arrived at my church I asked around to find out what the picketing was all about. I was informed that this was the same “CHURCH” group that pickets other churches around the country and also pickets the funerals of American Soldiers who were killed in action. Apparently, they were on assignment this past weekend against two of our larger churches in Nashville.
This is actually a topic that is very difficult for me to not become emotionally involved with as it pertains to the church and Christians. I have heard it said that what you are passionate about is probably what you have been called to fix. And this topic strikes at the core of the ministry that God has called me to and placed in me!
I’m one of those guys who really enjoys watching movies… Several years ago, a movie came out that was full of political and geographical satire as it relates to the “old south”. In the movie, the character, “Homer Stokes” made a statement asking a crowd of people at his political rally, “Is you is, or is you ain’t my constituency?” Being one who incorporates movie lines into daily conversation for the sake of humor and making a point, I felt my brain highlight and file that line as one that I would want to use one day.
Pondering Sunday’s events and the inconsistency between the Word of God and what I was seeing displayed by the “picketers” in the name of God, my mind pictured a bloody Christ, flesh torn from being beaten by a cat of nine, beard pulled out, side pierced, hands run through, crown of thorns on his head, standing behind a huge archaic microphone, on a wooded floored stage in an old southern architectural concert type building with the old sepia colored lighting…looking at the crowd of people holding up their signs he asks, “Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency”…(in the language that the ignorant, unlearned, blinded crowd of picketers would understand…)
It is beyond me how anyone could perceive the ultimate act of love, service and sacrifice displayed and exampled by Christ any other way than from a love perspective. He didn’t endure such horrific punishment because of a “hate” for anyone. It was his love for man kind and his desire to restore the relationship between them and God that he was willing to lay down his life. Those who ignorantly and un-learnedly use the Bible as a weapon to spread hate, vengeance and wrath have mistaken the entire reality of redemption. Redemption from sin is a LOVE message! Not a condemnation message! Sin carried it’s own condemnation; Love set us free from it!
Look throughout scripture and see how Jesus responded to people who were living beneath their God ordained potential and you will see the heart of God displayed to people through Jesus.
God used a murderer, adulterer (David and Bathsheba) and a prostitute (Rahab) in Jesus’ bloodline. Jesus was known to prefer the company of sinners over the “religious” of the day and was criticized for it. When a woman, involved in an adulterous relationship, was caught in the act (which was punishable by death in the jewish culture), the crowd wanted judgment and death, Jesus offered a hand of love, acceptance, forgiveness and redemption. When another from a group of people who were considered unworthy to be addressed and discriminated against by the “religious” came to Jesus at a well having been divorced several times and presently living with a man who was not even her husband…Jesus didn’t offer any condemnation. He didn’t call her a sinner or a hatefully discriminate against her…He showed her love when others only judged her. Fast forward to the writer of 2/3’s of the New Testament, Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) the man who was involved in sentencing and executing several Christians… Yet God used him to pioneer Christianity for the world!
It is amazing to me to see the example of Christ and how God REALLY feels about people and His willingness to give grace and offer second and third and 50th chances to those who many would have simply written off as untouchable by religious standards…and that is the point that I am attempting to make, the religious standards are not in line with who God is or what He examples in His Word.
PEOPLE take something so simple and pure and make it so complicated and perverted! How could someone possibly believe that they were representing a “loving” God by picketing a fallen soldiers funeral with words of hatred, judgment and condemnation. How could they possibly think that they were following after the heart of Christ who prayed, “God let them be ONE as you and I are one…so that the world may know that you sent me”…How could they possibly believe that spreading discord, dissension and hatred in any way reflects the heart of God who describes himself in one word… “Love”…
In this chapter I have addressed a subject that is the OBVIOUS cancer. It is the huge, unavoidable growth in the metaphorical “body of Christ” (and I use that term very loosely as I refer to them and their actions)…but what about the more subtle, silent cancers that actually come from the same foundation or root, but just don’t “appear” as repulsive.
Holding up the sign “Fags are beasts” doesn’t feel or appear the same as holding that same hatred in your heart secretly…but it IS the same root…just producing different fruit. Hatred is STILL a cancer! Unrighteous judgment is STILL functioning outside of your God-given authority.
We have been commanded to LOVE! Nowhere did Jesus ever advocate treating people hatefully or expressing anything but LOVE as it pertained to our fellow man…the only time he ever even became visibly angry was when the religious people intentionally perverted the Word of God or used the church to misrepresent God and His intentions by cheating people.
Paul understood as well as anyone this position. He was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. He was literally raised in the house of religion and stepped into the role as an adult! He understood the inconsistencies with what “religion” taught about God and who Christ exampled as it pertained to Love! And Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Why do you think he addresses “Tounges” and “Prophecy” and “understanding the intricate things of God with a depth of learned knowledge” and how it compares to “Love”…The reason is, because he WAS that man! He said “If I” over and over again in that chapter…Not “If you”… He was using their knowledge of who he was and is to be an example for them…He WAS the trained, educated, knowledgeable, learned religious man as a Pharisee! And he realized that all of those things were nothing when he did not understand the love of God and how to example it in his own life! He knew what it was like to have all the understanding but miss the essential aspect of who God is, and he wrote to the church to warn them of the dangers of allowing that “religious” spirit, that he spent a lifetime cultivating, to take root in their own lives.
It is a given that most of the churches are not out waving banners of hatred for the world to see…but there is still a cancer in the body of Christ as it pertains to “loving” people who are not like “us”. Most would adamantly oppose and deny “hatred” in their own hearts, but might balk at the question, “Do you love_____(fill in the blank)”.
Ultimately, we have a responsibility for how we conduct OURSELVES as it pertains to people and how we reflect Christ in our lives. Only we know what is in our heart. We can’t make other Christians love, but we can discipline ourselves to be the proper example of God’s love within our sphere of influence. I would challenge you today to search your heart and ask God to reveal to you the areas where your heart does not properly convey His.
If you find an inconsistency, address it. It might take time to “unlearn” some of the perspectives that we have had emotional attachment to, but it couldn’t be any harder than Paul letting go of an attachment that he was willing to kill for before God gave him the proper perspective.
If you are willing, God is able…
“Is You Is or Is You Ain’t His Constituency?”
If you can dig it, say “Word!!!”